Top-of-class display. Accurate, quick tuning. Visual readout for volume level. Bang for buck.
Some may wish for a touchless sensor rather than a cable mechanism.
Ernie Ball VPJR Tuner
Ease of Use:
Using their industry-standard, rock-solid VPJR volume pedal as a template, Ernie Ball’s engineers somehow found a way to integrate an onboard chromatic tuner to the formula. This is not a gimmicky add-on. The tuner’s functionality and display rival many of the better standalone tuners available. The smartphone-like touchscreen monitor is large, with a crystal-clear display, and there’s an option to choose between three modes: volume only, tuner only, or volume and tuner (my preference), where the tuner function automatically engages when the treadle is heel down. When in tuner mode, double tapping the monitor reveals a pitch screen to select your chosen frequency above or below standard 440 Hz.
Tuning on the bright, liquid-like clear screen presents the octave and reference pitch in addition to the large display of the note, which sits between sharp and flat indicators. And once the selected string’s note has been hit, the entire needle field lights up with a brilliant-green background (from blue) to confirm you’re there. Another big bonus about the display is that when you’re in volume mode, a monitor-filling 1-10 level indicator is right at your feet. Sure, volume pedals are typically maneuvered by touch and audibility, but think about it: It’s a damn cool feature to be able to view exactly where you’re at or need to be.
I haven’t even touched on the potential pedalboard real-estate savings, but the math is pretty easy for this two-in-one piece of gear. I guess I’m a sucker for smart design, performance, and efficiency. Maybe you are, too.
Test Gear: 2002 Fender Precision, GK 800RB, Orange OBC212, Gibson SG Special Faded, CMI Electronics SG-212